The obvious buyer—l’elephant dans la piece, le gorille de 400 kg—is acquisition juggernaut Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the Laval, Quebec-based owner of the global Circle K convenience-store network.
Michael Van Aelst, analyst with TD Securities Inc., Toronto, said in a research note that Couche-Tard was a bidder for the Hess retail network in 2014.
MPC closed on the acquisition of the approximately 1,250 convenience stores of Hess Corp. in late September 2014, practically doubling the size of its nearly 1,500-store Speedway retail network upon rebranding.
“We are convinced that Couche-Tard would be involved should an auction be initiated,” he said. “We do not believe that its interest level has waned.”
He estimates Speedway’s value to be between $9 billion and $10 billion.
Keith Howlett, analyst with Desjardins Capital Markets, Montreal, agrees with this valuation. And in a separate research note, he said “by early [calendar year 2018], Couche-Tard may be facing a new public competitor (Speedway) with an enterprise value of more than $10 billion, or alternatively, may be invited by Marathon to bid on acquiring Speedway.”